To read the introduction about Banff: Nothing Around Us, Except the Universe: A Banff Introduction
An “Outrageous Fun” Story
This story is the first installment in a series of short stories about my road trip to Banff National Park with my brother Christian and my good friend Michael. To learn more about the details of this trip, please read my other two pieces that I have posted about it, Nothing Around Us, Except the Universe and Photos: “Outrageous Fun” Road Trip.
Location: In the middle of nowhere at the border between Saskatchewan, Canada and North Dakota, U.S.
Time: 11 PM
Christian pulled the whip up to the guard booth. To us, it’s just a routine border cross. We hand over our passports, informed the border guard that we don’t have any fruits or guns in our possession and await the usual command that we are clear to go through. That command never came though. Instead, we were told to pull around to the border station parking lot and go inside the facility. Without resistance, we did his bidding. Before we left the car, I grabbed a bag of dried fruit and nut mix that we had in the car. I truly didn’t know if our dried fruit counted as “fruit” that needed to be claimed.
We walked into the building and approached the counter. A border authority officer sat on the other side. She looked down upon us with a stern stare. She noticed my bag of dried fruit and nut mix and asked, “what is that?” I replied, “Well I didn’t know if this counted as claiming frui…” “That’s not what we’re looking for,” she quickly responded.
I now felt like a fool because I had brought this large bag of dried fruit and nut mix into the facility. Anyway, we were told to fill out the usual customs form and then sit in some seats and wait.
After some time, the same officer at the desk approached us and asked for Michael to come with her. Michael disappeared with the woman and Christian and I sat in our seats, curious to why he was taken. We waited a little longer until the woman returned and asked for me to join her. She said, “bring your bag of whatever.” I followed her down this long, dimly lit hallway. We then took a right into a second hallway. To my left, I saw a room that had a window in it. I looked inside and saw Michael sitting. The door to that room appeared to be locked.
I was brought into another room that was located right after Michael’s detainment room. I was told to sit on one side of a table, while the woman occupied the seat on the other side. She asked me to empty my pockets and said that she was going to ask me a few questions. She asked about our trip and if we had any drugs or weapons in our possession. I told the woman everything truthfully and informed her that we did not possess any of the materials that she listed. After my story appeared to be legitimate enough, I was escorted into the same detainment room with Michael.
As Michael and I were talking about what happened to us, we saw Christian being escorted by three border authority guards in addition to that same woman. Obviously we didn’t see what happened, but we heard about it afterwards. To them, Christian appeared to be the most suspicious of us guys. Us three think they thought that because of his long hair and big beard. They might have thought him to be a stoner. As a result, they brought in multiple guards to try to intimidate him into telling the truth if we actually had any drugs in our possession. Christian told us that when he was being questioned that there was one female guard who was standing in the corner of the room with latex gloves on. He said that at that moment, he was thinking, “I really hope she’s not going to give me a cavity search.” He also said that she was looking at him in a manner in which she didn’t want to give a cavity search either. Eventually, they believed his story, stopped questioning him and locked him in the same room with us.
We waited in the room while they went out and searched our van. Eventually, our anxiety calmed down and we began to joke. Michael suggested that we make a running man video, captioning it, “running man while detained at the border!” Both Christian and I shushed Michael because we were worried that the room was bugged.
The guards came back soon enough and sent us on our way. We left and drove through North Dakota throughout the night and watched a brilliant lighting storm rage on in front of us.
To read the next Banff story: Frisked